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Richmond's Response to EPA’s Lead Pipe Replacement Acceleration Proposal

City of Richmond Response to EPA’s Lead Pipe Replacement Acceleration Proposal

On November 30, 2023, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued proposed regulations that accelerate the replacement of lead service lines. This new proposal is in addition to the already issued Lead and Copper Rule Revisions (LCRR), which goes into effect in October 2024.

Protecting public health and safety is at the heart of the City of Richmond’s mission. The City of Richmond’s drinking water is clean, safe, and reliable. It has consistently met or exceeded federal and state regulations and undergoes continuous testing, which is outlined in the annual Consumer Confidence Report.  

We remind citizens that eliminating the risk of lead getting into drinking water is a shared responsibility. Richmond’s drinking water does not contain lead when it leaves the treatment plant. Rather, instances of lead in water can occur from water service lines made of lead as well as internal plumbing materials. A portion of each water service line is owned by the City (public), and a portion is owned by the property owner (private).  

Elevated lead levels can cause serious problems if too much enters the body from drinking water or other sources. Lead water service lines are relatively common in older cities and older water utilities. Since we’ve learned the harmful effects of lead, best practices for reducing exposure to lead have evolved over time. In keeping with best practices, the City of Richmond began in the early 1980s treating its water with an inhibitor to prevent lead from entering the water system. That same year, the City began replacing the public portion of the lead water service lines. These practices have been underway for several decades. 

When best practices further evolved to full replacements, including replacing the private service lines, DPU coordinated with the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) to provide funding assistance. The City of Richmond was one of the first recipients in the Commonwealth to receive the VDH grant funding to assist private property owners in replacing lead lines. This grant was introduced in 2018 and, to date, along with ARPA funding, has aided in the replacement of nearly 600 lead service lines. Early in 2023, DPU received an award for its grant program from the EPA (AQUARIUS Award for creative solutions). The grant program is anticipated to reopen in February 2024 to further assist property owners.

In addition to the new grant funding in February, DPU is anticipating the release of an interactive service line inventory map and customer survey. The current LCRR requires that by October 2024, the City submits to VDH a map that inventories the material of all water service lines (public and private). DPU is developing a plan to locate and replace all lead lines within the City. The assistance of private property owners will be critical to this effort.

The City welcomes assistance with helping accelerate lead replacements so we can move toward a lead-free city. However, the timeframe proposed by the EPA is aggressive, given current conditions. Meeting this timeline will require additional funding and other resources to avoid creating an extra burden on ratepayers and potential code changes to allow more efficient replacements. 

To learn more about lead in water, how the City protects the public service lines, how homeowners can determine if their private lines are lead, and what funding is available to replace them. Visit to learn more.